Transforming kitchens to last with Kevin Haughey

Updated Jun 4, 2024 | Posted May 24, 2024 | Product Advice | 0 comments

Kevin runs an in-demand team of skilled decorators in Ireland who spray and hand paint kitchen cabinets and furniture to a high standard.

Kevin has 30 years of experience in the industry, from running painting & decorating companies to managing a chain of decorating stores. He saw the opportunity to specialise in kitchen spraying in 2018 – with kitchens being such a high-cost part of a house to replace, a good quality paint job can completely transform the look of an existing kitchen in an outdated colour or material.

We spoke to him about his process, and how to create the most durable finish in a kitchen that receives heavy wear.


Kevin, how did you decide to specialise in kitchens?

I started painting when I was 14 with my father in the family decorating business so I started early! I went to art college, then America for 10 years where I was spraying kitchens. It wasn’t yet fashionable in Ireland though so when I came back, I worked on housing developments, which was a bit stressful. Then the recession hit, and I moved into retail, working my way up to Head of Retail across the chain of stores. I learned a lot there about running a business, buying, marketing, and staffing, but ultimately wasn’t what I wanted to do.

I left, knowing that I wanted to specialise in kitchens and now we are into our 6th year of business! It is the right time for kitchen spraying, as it’s a fraction of the cost of putting in a new kitchen, people are far more open to colour on their cabinetry now and comfortable with the idea of upcycling. People love a before and after comparison, and this makes it easy for new customers to see how spraying the kitchen can completely transform it.


Tell us about your process. It must be fairly streamlined by now!

At initial enquiry I ask the customer to send photos of the kitchen and I price it up based on the photos. I explain the process to them in a follow up call, and that our lead time is 12-16 weeks as we are consistently busy and booked up. My wife Emma is an interior designer and works with the client on the colour scheme, helping them to choose and finalise the colours.

We start each kitchen on a Monday and finish on a Friday. We also have other work for kitchen designers on top of that. We spend Monday/Tuesday in the home, Wednesday/Thursday in the workshop spraying cabinet doors, then back into the home on Friday.

We communicate with the customer throughout the week and send progress photos, so it’s easy for them to understand and that we are sticking to the timeline all the way through.


How important is it to prep the surface and what do you use for this?

We have been using Blockade Shellac Sealer Primer (from Smith & Rodger) for 5 years now and all of our kitchens get a primer coat of Blockade. A lot of our kitchens are oak, fitted about 10-15 years ago and we use Blockade as it blocks the tannins and knots in the wood. It gives good adhesion for the next coat, and there are no problems with fumes. It dries quickly so we can recoat quickly. We coat with Blockade, take a tea break then give it a light sand and recoat with the next coat. It’s part of our system.

Blockade is better than other sealer primers on the market for us, as we used to get issues with the others that we don’t experience now. It holds well on vertical surfaces which is important for spraying kitchens as it doesn’t run – remedial works on issues like this with other products can be time-consuming.

I discovered Blockade when I got a sample 5 or 6 years ago – my brother runs a paint shop Albany in County Galway and gets a delivery of Blockade from Tradex Supplies every 2nd week and has been selling it since it was launched. In fact we have just finished doing Rory, the distributors kitchen!

How do the clients pick the colour? We know from experience that people are not generally confident with colour!

My wife Emma works with them to choose and finalise the colours. We have all of the colours painted out on wooden block samples so they can look at them in their home, narrow down their choices and co-ordinate colours. Emma is an interior designer with many years of experience so if they need some expert advice, it’s on hand!


Do you use any topcoats to protect the surface once painted?

We do. We use Rocktop on hall console tables, places where people throw their keys, or on areas of hard wear that would scratch easily. Where there are kids in the house or kitchens that are well used, we use it on the kitchen islands or the lower cupboards. We also use it in commercial settings, such as swinging doors to the kitchen – you can just roller it on and then forget about it!


What advice would you give to decorators in the UK reading this?

Specialise. Specialising is how you stand out and make a name for yourself. We have found our niche with kitchens and are always busy – it’s become the thing that we are known for. There is more than enough work in my local area here.

It can be hard to make a living as a general painter and decorator so finding your niche is the key.


Contact details:

Kevin Haughey

00353 861708771

Updated Jun 4, 2024 | Posted May 24, 2024 | 0 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Cupit has been in the decorating industry since 2002 and has mostly worked as a Trade Decorator in the domestic sector (peoples’ homes). Self-proclaimed “product geek”, Mike has a passion for paint and decorating tools. Mike now spends most of his time testing paint products and tools, comparing them to similar products on the market, and blogging about the industry in general.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *